Author: Lindsay Smith
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Published Date: 6th October 2015
Published Date: 6th October 2015
Rating: 4 stars
*Thanks to Sunday Street Team for the review copy*
Synopsis: A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.
Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.
A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.
Interview: Where did you get the inspiration for your novel?
Dreamstrider is, for me, about both kinds of dreams--the weird, wild ones we have at night, and the hopefuly, yearning ones we have in the daytime. I loved the idea of a fantasy world where both kinds of dreams were really the same--a call to action that the recipient ignored at their peril. And I wanted Livia, the main character, to be a true believer, and yet still not always feel willing or able to follow the path that’s been set before her.
What do you think of the cover?
I LOVE it! I screamed (quietly) when I saw the first mockup. Then my publisher asked the illustrator to work in more flourishes that match items and elements found in the book, which they did, perfectly. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect cover for Livia and her dreams!
Who is your favourite character, and why?
Oh, that’s tough! I love ALL my characters, but for different reasons. I love Livia for her resilience and determination to do what’s right, even when she doesn’t feel adequate for the task. I love Brandt for his unwavering devotion and resourcefulness. I love Vera for her impulsiveness and bravery. And I love Marez for his cunning and ability to divine the truth out of most everything and everyone!
What is one thing you learned about writing as you wrote this?
This is the book that finally made me swear off writing without an outline! I had a very loose structure in mind for this book, but there’s so much happening in it and so many intricacies at play that I ended up rewriting it about five times to get it into the shape it’s in now. I love “pantsing,” as they call it (as in writing by the seat of your pants), but I’ve found that the sort of stories I’m drawn to are just too complicated for me to tell without a solid blueprint in place.
Do you have any plans for future projects?
Yes! I have a new book coming out with Macmillan in Fall of 2016 called A Darkly Beating Heart, which is basically an angry bisexual Japanese time travel revenge fantasy. I’m also a member of the writing team for a really cool serialized fiction project that debuts early next year called The Witch Who Came In From the Cold. It’s exactly what it sounds like--1970s spy noir with magic.
Review: For this book, the hype was real. It was exceptionally real. But, on the other hand, well desered. Previous to hearing about this books release I had never heard of the author Lindsay Smith. I looked up the book on Goodreads and I have to admit, it was love at first sight. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that beautiful cover? I did decide that it isn’t good to fall in love with books based on looks (or people, for that matter) so I read the synopsis and that was when I KNEW it was true love. Dreams, espionage and a strong main character? I wanted that.
Boy, did this novel give it to me.
Lindsay Smith has managed to write this book in some of the most beautiful language I have read in a while. At times I felt like pulling out some of the lines and stringing them into a poem – that’s how melodic it really was. Yet at the same time it was never draggy on the story or overdone so it just seemed to fit. The novel kept progressing but every now and again I would marvel at how all the words so wonderful painted the images the author wanted me to see.
There was quite a bit to this world and the world building was on point. Livia comes from a place called Brandt where a hierarchy system is in place. There are different areas which we also explore excluding the city: the tunnels, Farthinger and also the Iron Winds. All of these places were so well depicted that I could basically imagine myself there. Of all the places Smith introduced us to, one was definitely going to be a favourite. The Dreamworld.
Dreaming is something sacred in Brandt, but no one knows dreams like Livia does. The dreamworld, called Oneiros, has its own rules. You can fly. You can see people as symbols and images. And if you are a dreamstrider like Livia? You can temporarily take over someone else’s body. HOW COOL IS THAT? No wonder she was a spy. It’s the ultimate weapon.
The dreamstriding idea and politics were exceptionally well described. I worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it, but it was no issue at all! The novel also had quite a few subplots that all connected, and it was all so intricately done! Everything fell into place and it was such an intriguing read :3
Livia was an interesting character. I was expecting a strong willed character from reading the synopsis, but she was more so someone who continually doubted herself. She had this great power, but she wasn’t entirely sure how to wield it, and she did make mistakes. Of course, it was pretty important for her not to make those mistakes while they were on missions. I liked that she was a vulnerable character because in reality, we can’t all be strong and fierce and untouchable like Katniss. Livia was realistic and given a gift that she didn’t know what to do with. I am sure we have all felt like we fall short of some expectations at times, and that made her easy to relate to. Also – Olivia, Livia… how could I not like her when we basically have the same name?
The prologue (although really short) felt a bit rushed and it threw me a bit at the beginning. The overall pace of this novel was slower than I expected it to be, but I was never bored. It kept on going, steadily.
The romance in this novel wasn’t a prime, front aspect of it. Yes, it was there, but it was a subplot because there was too much other stuff happening that was the focus. I kind of liked that the romance wasn’t a big thing in the novel, but still liked it well enough!
One of the twists in the novel was a bit predictable, but the rest weren’t. I’m going to say the climax of this one was a bit bizarre and more out-there then I would have expected (best way to explain it without giving a spoiler!) but I did like it well enough. I really liked the conclusions Livia got to.
I am so reading the next novel Lindsay publishes :D
Links: Goodreads and Amazon! Also, you can see Lindsay's website, her tumblr, or find her on twitter.
Giveaway! Win one of 15 copies of Dreamstrider! Open US/Canada only.
Olivia’s Question: If you could “be” one different person for a day, who would you choose?